(415) 474-3130 Info@ElectricTourCompany.com
(415) 474-3130 Info@ElectricTourCompany.com

Exploring Washington Square in North Beach, San Francisco

Washington Square, nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach/ Little Italy neighborhood, is a charming and historic park that offers a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. In this article, we’ll delve into the rich history of Washington Square and uncover 12 fun and lesser-known facts about this beloved urban oasis.

A Glimpse of Little Italy

Washington Square is an iconic landmark located in the heart of Little Italy, San Francisco. It’s bordered by the renowned Saints Peter and Paul Church on Filbert Street, adding to its cultural and architectural significance. Here, older residents practice Tai Chi, creating a serene atmosphere, while locals bring their children to the playground and their furry friends to enjoy the grassy park.

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Fun Fact #1: Saints Peter and Paul Church, located at 666 Filbert Street, is an architectural masterpiece with neo-Gothic design and beautifully lit towers. This church gained fame when Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio posed for wedding pictures on its steps. They did not get married in the Church as it was a 2nd marriage for DiMaggio and that was not allowed.

A Park with a Rich History

Fun Fact #2: Washington Square has a history dating back to 1847, making it one of San Francisco’s earliest parks. Over the years, it has become a natural gathering place for the community, hosting festivals, free movie nights, and special events throughout the year.

Fun Fact #3: In the 19th century, the area served various purposes, from potato farming to being an unofficial dump next to a cemetery. However, by the 1860s, it transformed into a venue for celebrations, including Fourth of July and Italian festivals.

Fun Fact #4: Originally, Washington Square was a complete rectangle extending all the way to Powell Street. However, in 1873–1875, Columbus Avenue was constructed, cutting through the square to promote interaction between North Beach and the Financial District.

Fun Fact #5: During the 1906 earthquake and fire, the park served as a refuge for approximately 600 people who lived in wooden barracks and Army tents.

Art and Landmarks

Fun Fact #6: The park is home to the Benjamin Franklin statue, which stands on the base of a Temperance fountain donated in 1879 by Temperance crusader Henry D. Cogswell.

Fun Fact #7: Marini Plaza, a small park separated from the main square by Columbus Avenue, is named after civic benefactor Frank Marini, who played a significant role in the development of the area.

Fun Fact #8: In the 1950s, a coalition called the Committee to Beautify Washington Square redesigned the park, transforming it into the layout we see today.

Cinematic Fame

Fun Fact #9: Washington Square has been a backdrop for several feature films, including “Dirty Harry” (1971) and “Bedazzled” (2000).

Literary Connections

Fun Fact #10: The park has literary ties, with chapters in Richard Brautigan’s novel “Trout Fishing in America” taking place in Washington Square.

Fun Fact #11: Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “The Old Italians Dying” is set in this beloved square.

A Symbol of Preservation

Fun Fact #12: Washington Square is now a San Francisco landmark, thanks to the efforts of the Hill Dwellers and community groups who worked tirelessly to protect its historical significance.

Include this stop on your visit to San Francisco

Washington Square, with its rich history, cultural significance, and serene ambiance, stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of San Francisco. Whether you visit to relax on its lush lawns, explore its landmarks, or simply soak in its unique atmosphere, this North Beach gem continues to captivate both residents and visitors alike.


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